After further investigation, it was discovered that the Chapel Hill Town Council voted Feb. 28 not to pursue allowing bow hunting for deer on town-owned land and adjoining University of North Carolina property.
At that meeting, the town's Sustainability Committee put several proposals before the council. The proposals included:
• considering banning deer feeding by residents;
• opening town-owned land to archery hunting, including almost 100 acres on the north side of town near Interstate 40 plus several hundred acres near Mason Farm and Merritt's Pasture;
• asking the University of North Carolina to allow archery-only hunting at the 1,000 acres surrounding Horace Williams Airport;
• restricting bow hunting to archers with liability insurance;
• restricting archers to hunting from tree stands at least 15 feet above ground; and
• setting a goal of reducing the deer herd inside the town limits to 10 animals per acre instead of the current 30 to 45 whitetails per acre.
The town council – which didn't change a regulation allowing archery hunting on private land and indicated it would allow its Urban Archery Season to automatically renew for 2011-12 – accepted the committee's proposals but decided to take no action, effectively tabling their suggestions.
A March 7 story on NorthCarolinaSportsman.com indicated the town did not permit any deer hunting at all.
Chapel Hill resident and president of the Broken Arrow Archery Club Rob Reda pointed out in an e-mail and during a March 10 telephone interview that Chapel Hill, in fact, has allowed archery hunting on private property within the town limits for years and was a participant in the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Urban Archery Season for the first time during January and February 2011, although no one in town government publicizes either fact and few residents are aware of either season.
Reda said he believes the town council has some members who don't want to publicize archery deer hunting inside Chapel Hill's town limits or that the town has enrolled in the WRC's Urban Archery Season.
"I killed four deer during the (WRC) deer season in 2010 and one during the Urban Archery season in 2011," Reda said. "I checked with the town manager and with the Wildife Commission in Raleigh before I hunted to see if it was legal and got confirmations from everyone."
But Reda said even WRC enforcement officers apparently didn't know archery hunting during a UAS in Chapel Hill would be permitted during January and February 2011.
"In December 2010 I talked to three uniformed (WRC) game wardens at a butcher shop, and they didn't know Chapel Hill would take part in (this year's) Urban Archery Season hunts," he explained.
The WRC officers were unaware of Chapel Hill's acceptance of the UAS because the state's fish-and-game agency didn't publicize that fact in the 2010-11 N.C. Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Digest.
The WRC's digest lists 26 towns and cities that participated in the UAS during 2011. Most hunters and WRC personnel depend upon that publication for information about municipalities that have signed up for the UAS, along with other rules and regulations. But Chapel Hill wasn't listed.
Carolyn Record of the WRC's Division of Wildlife Management confirmed Chapel Hill wasn't included in the UAS list in its regulations digest.
"Chapel Hill was in the Urban Archery Season for 2010-2011 for the first time, but (the WRC) gave (the town) the option to not be listed (in the digest) and they chose not to be listed," Record said.
Phone calls and emails to Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Ward about the decision not to list the town as a UAS area have gone unanswered.
"During April 2010, (pro-archery citizens) thought the town was going to consider opting into the Urban Archery Season," Reda said. "I talked to Mayor Kleinschmidt just before that April meeting and asked him to forget about the Urban Archery question. I wanted to know if bow hunting at private land was allowed in Chapel Hill during the regular (archery and gun) seasons and he said, 'Yes, it is.'
"However, most of the town council didn't know this. The only laws on the town books discuss use of firearms (inside city limits), which is prohibited. There is no discussion about bows and arrows (in Chapel Hill's town regulations). However, a few property owners who are hunters knew about it and have been hunting deer with archery equipment."
Reda said it was discovered last spring that the town was participating in the UAS.
"At the April 2010 meeting, we also found out the town already had been accepted as a member of the Urban Archery Season for this January and February," Reda said. "However, when people walked away from that meeting, most of us thought the town council would rescind its application and say, never mind, we don't want to be part of the Urban Archery Season.
"To our surprise, they didn't."
Reda said a Chapel Hill neighborhood that had been pushing for a UAS because of problems caused by overpopulated whitetails received an e-mail from the town manager last fall describing regulations archers participating in the UAS, set for Jan. 15-Feb. 19, 2011, would have to follow.
"Then I killed a doe during the Urban Archery Season and called the I-Got-One deer registration number set up by the Wildlife Commission to check in that deer," Reda said. "When I clicked on Orange County as my county of kill, the computer program registered me as having killed the doe during Chapel Hill's Urban Archery Season."
Reda said he believed two town council members, Sally Greene and Laurin Easthorn, don't want deer hunting in Chapel Hill nor have they recognized deer hunting already occurs inside town limits.
"They told me several times they'd never allow deer hunting inside Chapel Hill," Reda said.
According to a news report, Greene commented at the Feb. 28 town council meeting that she didn't see how bowhunting would reduce an already large deer herd, and Easthorn called bow hunting risky and hazardous.
Even with private-property archery hunts conducted for years inside Chapel Hill's city limits, no accidents involving bow hunters have been reported.